If you follow authors on Twitter, chances are you know all about the Jennifer Weiner-Jodi Picoult-Jonathan Franzen literary vs. commercial fiction showdown taking place online.
Well, I suppose "literary vs. commercial fiction showdown" isn't entirely appropriate. Weiner explains the issue on her blog:
[Franzen's] back! On the cover of Time! In the pages of Vogue! Reviewed, glowingly, not once but twice in the New York Times! Which has also devoted a news story and an inside-the-list column to FREEDOM, even though it won’t come out ‘til next week!
Jodi Picoult, number-one bestseller of quote-unquote commercial fiction (full disclosure: she and I attended the same college and are published by the same house), has a problem with that. Last week, she tweeted about all of the attention the Times gives to its white male literary darlings, at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of other writers – some of them literary, some of them quote-unquote genre writers – who get no love at all.
But if you do want to get up-to-speed on the drama, here are few notable links:
As someone who reads both literary and commercial fiction (as do most readers of this blog, I'd imagine), I haven't gotten too bent out of shape over this dispute. I'm just happy it inspired the hilarious @EmperorFranzen twitter page!
Also in BookPage:
Interviews with Weiner about Goodnight Nobody and Best Friends Forever.
Interviews with Picoult about Change of Heart and The Tenth Circle.
Interview with Franzen about The Corrections. (I'll post our interview about Freedom on August 31, the novel's publication date.)
While many of us think of the summer months as prime reading season, publishers tend to save plenty of their sure-to-be fiction hits for fall. And this year’s crop of late 2010 novels is certainly no different.
Our September issue has already gone to press, and we are particularly excited about our interviews with Jonathan Franzen and Emma Donoghue. Franzen’s Freedom and Donoghue’s Room are two of the most talked-about upcoming releases, and we can’t wait to see what readers make of them once they go on sale in the coming weeks (for Freedom, that’s August 31 and Room, September 13).
September also marks the release of Sara Gruen’s follow-up to the smash hit Water for Elephants, Ape House, (Sept. 7), Ken Follett’s first part in a new trilogy, Fall of Giants (Sept. 28), another love story from Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven (Sept. 14) and Michael Cunningham’s first novel since Specimen Days, By Nightfall (Sept. 28).
But things don’t slow down in October. Nicole Krauss is back (after The History of Love) with Great House on Oct. 12 (be sure to check out our interview with Krauss in the October issue of BookPage) and John le Carré returns with Our Kind of Traitor (also on sale Oct. 12).
In November, we’re excited about a new—and very dark—story collection from Stephen King, Full Dark, No Stars (on sale Nov. 9) and Dennis Lehane’s follow up to Gone, Baby, Gone, Moonlight Mile (on sale Nov. 2).
If courtroom dramas and thrillers are your cup of tea, you are certainly in luck this fall. Vince Flynn, John Grisham, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, Tom Clancy and Steve Berry all have new releases in the coming months.
So as the kids go back to school and the leaves change from green to red, be sure to pick up one of these new novels. You won’t be disappointed!
Get ready for a refreshing, relaxing recipe this week from our cookbook of the month, Rick Bayless' Fiesta at Rick's [read our full review here]. These watermelon mojitos are perfect for your weekend barbeque.
Set out eight tall 12-ounce glasses. Put the leaves stripped off a single sprig of mint into each glass—you’ll need about 10 leaves for each drink—and top with 1/2 cup watermelon cubes. Divide the Simple Syrup among the glasses (1 tablespoon per glass). Use a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon or a long-handle ice tea spoon—though neither is anywhere near as effective) to crush the mint and watermelon, releasing their flavor into the syrup—the more muddling, the fuller the flavors. Fill each glass with ice. Measure in the rum (2 ounces per glass) and the lime juice (1 tablespoon per glass). Use a long-handle ice tea spoon to mix everything together. Top off each glass with a little sparkling water or soda and you’re ready to serve.
Out of Flint, Michigan:
An article in today's Wall Street Journal has been making the rounds on Twitter and in blogs—the piece is about the habits of e-reader owners, and as Penguin imprint Dutton tweeted this morning, the conclusions are "maybe not what you'd think."
The major conclusion? Studies show that e-reader users read more often than they did before they owned the device, but they read slower. (This does not surprise me. I read the first 100 pages of Mockingjay on a Kindle and the second 100 in a hardback; I made the switch because the lag time between pages was starting to get on my nerves.)
Marketing and Research Resources reports that e-reader owners read 2.6 books per month, whereas old-fashioned (i.e. print) readers read 1.9 books per month. (A comparison: according to our 2010 Reader Survey, 65% of BookPage readers read at least 4 books per month. 20% of you read at least 8!)
An e-reader study found that 40% of e-reader users read more than they did with print books. 55% of the group said they'd use the device to read even more books in the future.
E-reader users: How have your reading habits changed since you got your Kindle, iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, etc.?
For more on this subject, read Lynn's iPad vs. Kindle blog post.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic • $17.99 • August 24, 2010
I know that many fans are afraid of spoilers, so all I'll say is that Mockingjay is a page-turner (duh); I am not disappointed with what I've read (aren't you always worried you'll be disappointed after looking forward to a series conclusion for so long?); and I love Katniss Everdeen—our heroine—more than ever.
You can listen to our staff's reactions to the story's twists, turns and surprises in a podcast we'll be posting later in the month. In the meantime, read a short excerpt from the novel:
"Katniss, I'm not arguing. If I could hit a button and kill every living soul working for the Capitol, I would do it. Without hesitation." He slides the last pencil into the box and flips the lid closed. "The question is, what are you going to do?"
It turns out the question that's been eating away at me has only ever had one possible answer. But it took Peeta's ploy for me to recognize it.
What am I going to do?
I take a deep breath. My arms rise slightly—as if recalling the black-and-white wings Cinna gave me—then come to rest at my sides.
"I'm going to. . . "
By the way, so far I've managed to avoid reviews of the novel—although I am happy to say that BookPage's review is a satisfying read, yet contains no spoilers.
Have you already managed to finish Mockingjay? What'd you think? Please avoid posting major plot twists (and if you're unsure of whether your comment is a spoiler, write "spoiler alert" before your note). Happy reading!
Including Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick. At least, that's what the forces behind Age of the Dragons are betting on. Director Ryan Little has transformed the 19th-century search for the great white whale into a medieval search for the great white dragon. A plot description:
Set in a medieval realm where Captain Ahab [Danny Glover!] and crew hunt dragons for the vitriol that powers their world, Ishmael, a charismatic harpooner joins their quest. Ahab's adopted daughter Rachel, beautiful and tough, runs the hunting vessel. Ahab's obsession is to seek revenge on a great "White Dragon" that slaughtered his family when he was young and left his body scarred and mauled, drives the crew deeper into the heart of darkness.
What are we talking about with that headline? The film version of Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, of course. Rumor has it that the film, which will start production in early 2011, has Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock ready to sign on, though their exact roles are unclear. Stephen Daldrey, who very successfully adapted The Hours and The Reader for the big screen, is in charge of the script, and Scott Rudin will produce.
No word yet on who will play the precocious Oskar.
Foer's second novel got mixed reviews—it was called brilliant, pretentious, moving, maudlin and everything in between—but it was a hit with the BookPage crew. Read our interview with Foer about the book here.
The wacky cast of characters in Carl Hiaasen's latest novel include an off-the-rails young starlet named Cheryl Bunterman, aka Cherry Pye; a sleazy paparazzo; a hijacked busload of development investors. . .
Still curious about what's making Star Island climb the bestseller lists and cause BookPage reviewer Becky Ohlsen to be "often amazed but never confused"?
Watch this book trailer from Knopf:
Will you check out Star Island?
Also in BookPage: Read about other books by Carl Hiaasen.
The trailer for Howl—an Allen Ginsberg biopic—has just been released, and it looks pretty fascinating. Though the Beat Poets have never spoken to me, precisely, James Franco and John Hamm definitely do. The film will also include "animated reimaginings" of Ginsberg's poem, drawn by graphic novelist and Ginsberg collaborator Eric Drooker. And who doesn't love a good obscenity trial? With the midcentury modern background reminiscent of "Mad Men" (they even stole that series' star, Jon Hamm!) this might be the next literary biopic to capture the imaginations of more than just readers.
Howl hits theaters in the U.S. on September 24.